I left my house in Cascade Locks way to early on the day of the race because I was told that traffic would back up across the bridge. This year however they did a great job of providing shuttle service and there was no traffic when I got there and ended up around two hours early. This gave me plenty of time to drive the course and watch the sunrise.
It didn’t take too long for the race to start at 6:30am. A very early start, but it could have almost started earlier. By the time I finished (3:19) it was already starting to get too hot. On the other hand, I’m not sure I would have wanted to start before sun up.
This is my third marathon in 2014 and by far the best. I have little pet peeves from other races that did not come up during this race. You could definitely tell that this marathon is organized by runners that know what they want in a race.
Far too often during a race I will see the volunteers set up their aid station 10-15 feet away from the course, forcing me to make a decision if I want to run off course or skip water. This race had none of that. All of the aid stations were staffed by volunteers that seemed to know what they were doing. They always had plenty of water and Nuun held out as well as Clif shot. These were probably some of the best volunteers in recent memory.
Traffic was limited to one lane. You don’t always find this in smaller races and it was a pleasant surprise. There were even flaggers with slow signs throughout the course. They did allow bicyclists to go in either direction which was nice because you always had people cheering for you. There was a timing mat at mile 20. It is awesome to be able to compare your first 20 mile pace to your last 10k pace, although kind of humbling as well.
The last nine miles are the same course as the half marathoners. This might be just me but there is something exciting about being able to pass people the last nine miles. I know they are walking and not being competitive with me, but I just like being able to pick people off during a race.
Best of all there were pools of ice water at the finish that you could sit and cool your legs in after a hot marathon. I probably spent way too much time in there after the race eating my strawberry shortcake that was made from strawberries grown on the island and served by the locals.
I would definitely recommend this race to anybody looking for a first time marathon or for a PR. It is almost entirely flat and the support is excellent. Plus you get to spend the rest of the day celebrating Independence Day.